Are ORAC Claims Equal Across All Products?

ORAC value claims are all the rage of the supplement industry today. (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) , is a method established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to quantify antioxidant potency.

It is important however to avoid being confused by all the claims of antioxidant potency by the vast array of supplement products available on the market. The original standard of measurement produced numbers much lower than the numbers we see today, after the standard was improved and revised. Some supplement producers are making comparisons that pit the old standard against the newer standard.

Whenever you see the word antioxidant in connection with a food or supplement, the term orac-value is usually close by. The problem is many have hijacked the term and confused the meaning by manipulating the measurement through a variety of deceptive practices.

Shown at right is a chart of certain high value foods. The most interesting thing on the chart however is the note at the bottom that talks about how the potency is reduced by cooking. In some cases up to 90 percent. Other nutrients are reduced or completely killed by cooking.

Products based on chemical extraction of antioxidants, in my opinion is inferior to real plants. There are 2 primary reasons:

  • Extraction of specific compounds often end up with a chemical compound, and as you know, chemicals are not as recognizable by the body.
  • This chemical extraction process fails to get all the constituent nutrients needed to equal the effectiveness produced by a live plant.

While antioxidant potency is important, supplementing to achieve them is at best a shot in the dark, because there are hundreds if not thousands of antioxidants. Which one for your particular condition is but a guess.

A more reasoned approach is to identify and combine foods that contain a wide variety of antioxidants, as well as many other essential nutrients. Also, if you do decide to supplement, consider products that represent whole food nutrition, usually in liquid form, not pills or capsules, because it is the live plant nutrition that is most beneficial.

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